The Power of Self-Coaching

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Content: The Power of Self-Coaching The Five Essential Steps to Creating the Life You Want Joseph Luciani, Ph.D. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The Power of Self-Coaching The Five Essential Steps to Creating the Life You Want Joseph Luciani, Ph.D. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Copyright © 2004 by Joseph Luciani, Ph.D. All rights reserved
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey Published simultaneously in Canada
Design and composition by Navta Associates, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Luciani, Joseph J.
The power of self-coaching : the five essential steps to creating the life you want /
Joseph Luciani.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-471-46360-4
1. Self-actualization (Psychology) I. Title.
BF637.S4L83 2004
158.1--dc22
2004005661
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Contents
Acknowledgments v Preface vii Introduction: Choose to Change, Choose the Life You Want 1
Part I
The Promise of Self-Coaching 1. Self-Coaching: Get the Power 17 2. Choosing Happiness, Dropping Misguided Goals 30
Part II
Your Problems: The Roots of Change 3. Why Are You Insecure? 51 4. Choose Not to Worry 62 5. Stop Controlling Life 75 6. Reflexive Thinking 95 7. Stop Insulating and Avoiding 107 8. A Perfect Way to Be Miserable 122 9. No More Lies 137 10. Trust Yourself 153
iii
Contents
Part III
The Five Steps of Self-Talk 11. Step One: Chart Your Weaknesses 165 12. Step Two: Separate Fact from Fiction 176 13. Step Three: Stop Listening to the Noise 187 14. Step Four: Let Go 193 15. Step Five: Motivate Yourself 209
Part IV Living with the Power of Self-Coaching 16. Use Your Power 221
Index 237
iv
Acknowledgments I'd like to thank my wife, Karen, my son, Justin, and my daughter, Lauren, for their continuous love, encouragement, and unselfish sacrifice these past few years. Without them my journey would be without meaning. The healing power of Self-Coaching was never something I devised or fabricated. It was revealed to me through my patients, all of whom courageously allowed me to join them in their unique struggles. They have been my teachers. Together we've learned to recognize one of life's essential truths: that we must take responsibility for life--not by compulsively trying to control it, but by separating fact from fiction and yielding to a deeper, more spontaneous life-force within. Had it not been for my agent, Jean Naggar, and her exceptional staff, the dream of expanding the power and promise of Self-Coaching would never have been realized. From the start, Jean has been a source of inspiration and unflagging encouragement. Her extraordinary literary talent and intuition are the sole reason my program has been making its way around the world today. My editor at Wiley, Tom Miller, who from the beginning was able to see the value of my work, has once again proven his artistry. I marvel at his remarkable ability to look at a manuscript and extract its deeper, underlying essence. His insights have made all the difference. I am eternally grateful to Tom for his loyalty, enthusiasm, vision, and friendship. My literary journey began many years ago, and I've been blessed to have Jane Rafal accompanying me every step of the way. Jane has v
Acknowledgments advised, coached, encouraged, and convinced me to believe in myself as an author. Her editorial contributions and support have contributed immensely to the growth of Self-Coaching as well as to my personal development as a writer. Finally, I'd like to thank my friends and Family members for their support and helpful suggestions: my lifelong friend and brother-in-law, Ron "Coach" York; my cousins, Celeste Galdierei (the family CEO) and Cathy Mangano; my nieces, Chrissy Lamm and Kathy Maki; my dear friend and mentor Perinkulam Ramanathan; my longtime confidant and buddy, Dr. Alan Gettis; my friend and lawyer, Alex Locatelli; and a Special thanks to three wonderful ladies who taught me well, my mother, Mary, my Aunt Tessie, and my mother-in-law, Joan. vi
Preface M y father wasn't a happy man. The stress of his constant anger is probably what killed him at age fifty-two. As did his lack of exercise, lack of self-discipline, deplorable diet, and aversion to doctors. Toward the end of his life he was drawn to gambling--it represented a way out of his cul-de-sac existence. Hitting it big and winning the trifecta represented hope in what was otherwise a sea of hopelessness. I look back at my father now and my heart aches. His life and early death were such wastes. If only I could have shared with him what I know now. If only I could have helped him recognize that there were choices. Like so many people, my father considered himself a victim of fate. It would never have occurred to him that his ineffective, frustrated life was nothing more than the result of cultivated habits of negativity. If only I could have told him about the power of Self-Coaching. In more than twenty-five years of private practice I've come to realize that my father's tormented life wasn't that unusual. Many people wind up in therapy complaining of nagging, vague problems such as feeling overwhelmed, worrying about the future, or having general feelings of unhappiness, helplessness, or self-doubt. Some find their way into therapy because there's nowhere else to turn; everything in their lives has begun to crumble. Most people, I suspect, never make it into therapy. They just live with their problems, not realizing they have a choice. vii
Preface Do you have your own laundry list of unresolved problems? If these diffuse, rather low-grade complaints are allowed to fester, they can lead to more serious emotional problems. But why wait for depression to develop or for anxiety to slam you into a panic? Why not recognize that the friction you feel in your life is a clue that you've drifted away from your natural and spontaneous center, your capacity for genuine happiness. Self-Coaching can bring you back to where your life begins to make sense, where you begin to flow effortlessly with life rather than desperately trying to control it. Learning to live more naturally and spontaneously may seem complicated, especially if you're suffering. It's not complicated at all. It isn't your nature to be unhappy or to suffer, it's simply your habit! And the truth is that habits are learned and habits can be broken. All habits. No matter how destructive, a habit can't hurt you if you learn to stop feeding it. How do you feed a habit? Every time you worry, fret, fear, or doubt, you're throwing your habit crumbs of your insecurity--feeding it. The Power of Self-Coaching will introduce you to a powerful tool called Self-Talk, which will starve the habits that hurt you and let you choose the life that serves you. So get ready to take your life back from the grip of reflexive, habituated thinking. Once you do, you'll understand my attitude toward more complex, traditional methods of healing. And if I sound a bit cocky, that's okay. Because Self-Coaching isn't about reflection or philosophical meditation, it's about instilling a can-do fire that will enable you to have the life you want, the life you deserve. In my previous book, Self-Coaching: How to Heal anxiety and depression, Self-Coaching was presented with the specific goal of alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Over the years since I first introduced Self-Coaching, I've found that my method is applicable to a much wider range of problems than just anxiety and depression. You will find The Power of Self-Coaching to be an empowering guide that can eliminate emotional friction in your life and reconnect you with an innate capacity for genuine happiness--before more serious emotional problems develop. Long after you've eliminated viii
Preface insecurity and struggle from your life, Self-Coaching can continue to serve you as an ongoing source of strength and rejuvenation. The power of Self-Coaching relies on the fact that you can learn to defeat whatever holds you back in life. Whether it is panic, depression, social anxiety, laziness, ineffectiveness, lack of success, or unhappiness, you must defeat whatever holds you back from the life you're capable of having. And you can! By following the five essential steps outlined in this book, you will find the uncomplicated answer to all your selfgenerated problems. You will learn to move from control thinking to a more spontaneous, instinctual understanding of what you need to be happy. ix
Introduction Choose to Change, Choose the Life You Want Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. --William Jennings Bryan I find no better place to begin this book than by introducing you to Tracy, a single, forty-eight-year-old retail clerk who came to see me to ask one question--a question I've heard maNY Times before. Perhaps it's a question you've asked yourself: All my life I've struggled. I've worked hard for thirty years and have nothing to show for it. No husband, no kids, no career, nothing. I live my life in this filthy, one-room apartment overlooking a parking lot and the roof of a Chinese restaurant. On a good day I drink too much wine, I watch too much TV, and I eat too much junk. On a bad day I don't get out of bed. I worry about dying, I worry about living, but mostly I worry about being alone for the rest of my life. Sometimes I can't sleep, my mind races, thinking about opportunities I've missed and people I've hurt. I get headaches and stomachaches, I'm angry at everyone and find it impossible to 1
The Power of Self-Coaching trust. My doctor wants me to consider depression medication, but, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure I want to bother. So what if medication makes me feel better? I still live in this apartment, still don't have a decent job or a family. Why bother? My doctor also tells me my blood pressure is too high, I'm overweight, and unless I change my ways, I'm headed for a heart attack. Change my habits--what a joke. I am my habits! Sure, Doc, I'll just go home and change! Doesn't he get it? This is me, stuck, destructive, and destined to live out my days alone and miserable. And I'm so scared. I came to therapy to ask you one question and I'd like an honest answer: Can someone like me really change? How would you answer Tracy's question? Many seem to think the personality is fixed at birth: "He's been a control freak all his life. I don't expect him to change." Or, "Sure I'm anxious. My mother was anxious, and so was her mother. It runs in the family." Some seem unsure: "Ever since my surgery I've gone downhill. I wasn't always such a worrier. I just can't seem to get back to feeling secure again." And yet for others, it's not a matter of personality, it's a matter of fate: "Some people are blessed with good fortune. Me, I've had nothing but bad luck all my life." The questions remain: Do people change? Can an unhappy life be exchanged for one of happiness and success? What Do You Think? I pondered these questions for years, from both intellectual and personal standpoints. Struggling with insecurity and anxiety as far back as I can remember, I wanted to know the truth. And yet, as much as I wanted to change, there was always a part of me that felt I was chasing rainbows. People don't change, not really. Even when I gave myself the benefit of doubt, the question remained: If change is possible, can it be enough to make a significant difference in my life? 2
Introduction Is Therapy the Answer? I find that most people who come for therapy usually arrive with a guarded ambivalence about whether it's possible to change. For some, after years of struggle and frustration, therapy is often their last hope to learn life's secret formula for happiness. And who is the keeper of this secret? The psychologist, of course. There's no doubt about it: a psychologist can inherit a lot of projected power. The psychologist becomes the healer, the teacher, the guru--and all before a single word is ever exchanged! Because of these projections, most people go through an initial infatuation period where just being in the psychologist's presence sends them off feeling "the best I've felt in years" and touting the amazing benefits of therapy. Then, as the sessions progress, things begin to slow down. Symptoms, initially eclipsed by the euphoric belief that finally you're getting the help you need, begin to return, along with the distressing realization that nothing has changed. Or worse, the fear that nothing will change! This can be a real letdown as the infatuated energy gets replaced by the mundane work of historical exploration, week after week after week. It's during this postinfatuation period that many begin to feel disillusioned, recognizing there's no abracadabra magic involved in change. As therapy progresses, most people reluctantly give up hope for an epiphany or secret insight, one that's supposed to set them free. Instead of waiting for that startling breakthrough or quick fix, they're left with the tedious work of figuring out why they do what they do. And by this time they're months into therapy and still acting like the same old wretch. What can they do? They've already invested all this time and money . . . maybe a few more sessions? A few more months? What's the verdict? When it comes to therapy, what's the consensus? Is it just a palliative shoulder to lean on and nothing more, or is it a tool for legitimate personality change? The question needs to be asked: Does therapy work, does it hold the secret of change? The short answer is yes and no. But before making sense of this paradox, I first need to tell you what I learned from my own years of struggle and from my training analysis. 3

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Title: The Power of Self-Coaching: The Five Essential Steps to Creating the Life You Want
Author: Joseph J. Luciani
Subject: 0471463604
Published: Tue Jul 13 16:38:12 2004
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